On the top of the WORLD
Manly mum Di Westaway has turned the concept of the high life on its head by completing a series of high-altitude handstands in the Cordillera Blanca mountains of Peru. The 56-year-old, whose Coastrek events inspire women to achieve extraordinary goals, already holds the record for the world's highest handstand, nearly 7 vertical kilometres up on Mount Ama Dablam in Nepal.
And now she has pulled off a remarkable balance on the knife edge 5550m summit of Mount Urus, Peru, which is higher than Everest Base Camp.
The Wild Women on Top founder says the idea for her company was born after her first failed attempt at mountain climbing. "I was approaching 40, I was miserable, exhausted and wrung out,” she says.
“I was trying to work, trying to be a mum and trying to nurture everybody. But in trying to do all of that I was neglecting my own health and my own self care. I was approached by a friend's personal trainer to climb a mountain and I thought if I don't get some first aid I'm going to need intensive care.
"So I went to the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, a mountain called Aconcagua in the Andes. I had an extraordinary experience - it was a miserable failure in that I didn't reach the top, but I did learn a lot about life and a lot about myself. I came back with a sense of wanting to help other women through the idea of an active adventure to motivate us to go walking regularly and keep ourselves fit, healthy and happy." Wild Women on Top now does just that with a series of annual Coastrek events where teams of four walk 60km along the beautiful Sydney coastline from Manly to Bondi to challenge and inspire themselves and raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Since 2009 over 18,300 people have taken part in the event and raised more than $13 million to help restore sight. Di is keen to point out that you don't need to hike up a mountain or do handstands to have an adventure.
"My main aim is to inspire women to lead adventurous lives," she enthuses. "Just because you turn 40, or 50 or any age that doesn't mean you should stop having fun and seeking out adventure - particularly adventures that keep you fit and healthy.
"On a Sunday morning get the girls together, have a cappuccino, go for a walk on our beautiful coastline, have a catch up and a chat - you'll feel great.
The main thing is, just do it!"